CSRS and FERS confusion


Q. In returning to the USPS in 1987, I was placed in FERS. I had worked from 1980 to 1985 under CSRS. I withdrew all money at this time. I kept informing everyone in personnel that I could return to CSRS; no one would listen. In December 2005, I received a letter stating that I was placed in the wrong retirement. From 1987 to 2010, I paid into Social Security.

They never changed the code until then they lost the paperwork. My husband died recently, and I am entitled to his Social Security when I am 59½. Is this subject to offset, and if it is not, will it be affected by the windfall elimination provision? What will happen when I am 62? No one knows; OPM says ask Social Security, and vice versa.

A. Because you are employed, you can receive a survivor Social Security benefit as early as age 60. However, when you retire, if you find that at age 62 your own Social Security benefit would he higher, you can switch to that.

However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Because you were initially placed in the wrong retirement system when you returned to work, you need to get things straightened out now before you apply for retirement and see your paperwork bouncing back.

You are subject to the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act. Therefore, you and your agency will need to fill out the paperwork at www.opm.gov/retire/pre/fercca. If your case is accepted, you can decide which retirement system you want to be in.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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